Some people just can’t escape criticism. One of those unfortunates is Creigh Deeds. First, there’s a scathing editorial from Doug Wilder, who many waved off as a has-been when he predicted the inevitable. From the RTD:
Candidly, though, I will state that Deeds’ inability to resonate with the base of the party was not his only failure, as some have claimed. He also failed to connect with the overall root base of Virginia voters of all persuasions — particularly independents and crossover Republicans. If a candidate cannot attract the votes of a broad-based coalition, it becomes extremely difficult — if not impossible — to win any statewide election in this commonwealth.
That is Virginia Politics 101, but sometimes it does us all good to refresh ourselves about the lessons these past few decades of elections have taught us.
With the concerns of the base about job losses, under-employment, health care, and resources for infrastructure improvements mounting on an almost daily basis, Democrats will have to start showing that the base — which has been so essential to so many of us having been elected and put into positions of leadership — has real reasons to believe that its votes matter, and that it will see tangible results, notwithstanding the present dilemma of the party.
Meanwhile, outgoing Governor Tim Kaine shows that a little loss like that on November 3rd is no cure for arrogance. From the Politico:
In an interview in Monday’s Danville Register & Bee, Kaine, who’s also chairmen of the Democratic National Committee, said that he would have run for re-election if Virginia governors were not limited to one term and that if he had run again he “probably could have won pretty easily.”
So you really think that the voters of Virginia would have just ignored your billion dollar deficits? Indeed, there was one candidate on the ballot that worked with the Governor and defended his fiscal policies tooth and nail only to get whomped just as bad. Can’t poor Creigh catch a break? Just like the incoming Governor he’s still got a job to do, and I’m sure he’ll be glad when session comes. Will he become a leading critic of the administration? Time will tell.
Of course, Tim Kaine also threw himself a lavish party at the Hat Factory in Richmond with over 1,400 guests. No word if this was on the government kitty….but its clear that His Excellency would rather us remember “the good times” like a boyfriend desperate to get back with a girl he mistreated.
We noted yesterday that while Terry McAuliffe is deriding the effect of lobbyist gifts during a public official’s service, he has no problem with using lobbyist dollars to fund his own ambitions. Now, we discover that while he’s talking job creation in Virginia, he has no problem going elsewhere to fund his efforts to seduce the people of our great commonwealth. From the Washington Post:
In January, McAuliffe raised $350,000 at a New York fundraiser at the Park Avenue apartment of Hassan Nemazee, a prominent investment banker who was one of Hillary Clinton’s finance chairs. Bill Clinton stopped by unannounced.
Why, his scruples are in such limited quantities that he has no problem with making an appearance about the economy then skipping town to find funds to fuel his dream:
On March 2, McAuliffe was in Northern Virginia to talk about job creation, small-business support and workforce training. That night, he attended a fundraiser at a Chicago restaurant hosted by J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire whose family founded the Hyatt hotel chain, and Kevin O’Keefe, a Clinton White House lawyer.
On March 4, McAuliffe held an economic roundtable in Roanoke. That night, he was at the home of Jim Pederson, a businessman who chaired the Arizona Democratic Party. “Terry is held in high regard and affection in our party,” Pederson said. “It doesn’t surprise me that there’s an outpouring for him now. It’s time for a little payback.”
It’s clear that Terry is the ultimate chameleon and carpetbagger, finding a place to set his roots and water it with thousands of dollars from national Democrats determined to make Virginia a laboratory for left-wing policies.
If there’s anything to be said for Terry McAuliffe’s shameless self-promotion, it’s that he tends to know what people like. Recently, he managed to latch on to government reform as an issue, and knowing that many transparency efforts have seen wide Republican (and indeed, Democratic support) in the last few months, he decided to kick things up a notch. From the RTD:
McAuliffe, one of three candidates for the Democratic nomination, yesterday called for a prohibition on “all gifts and trips from lobbyists” to legislators and executive-branch officials, including the governor.
The proposal follows a report Sunday in the Richmond Times-Dispatch spotlighting widespread weaknesses in the state’s mandatory disclosure rules under which entertainment and gifts go unreported.
Frankly, I think that the proposal may be a bit overreaching. I’d like to hear if this is just a ban on gifts from registered lobbyists or a gift of value from anyone advocating for or against legislation. I think it’d be rather ridiculous if a local Farm Bureau group was not allowed to give their Delegate or Senator a token of their appreciation. Honestly, the requirement of gifts of more than $50 probably goes as long a way as an outright ban, as members of the GA have to think long and hard before they accept a gift knowing it will be in the public record.
What’s far more interesting, however, is that while McAuliffe thinks there’s a big problem with legislators and the Governor accepting gifts from lobbyists while in office, he has no problem with using lobbyist money to fund his own ambitions. From CNN:
Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is taking flack from one of his Democratic rivals for attending a campaign fundraiser co-hosted by a prominent Republican lobbyist who publicly opposed Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign.
The event was held Tuesday night at the Washington office of the BGR Group, a top government affairs and public relations firm founded by three Republicans including lobbyist Ed Rogers, a friend of McAuliffe’s who co-hosted the fundraiser.
Ethical pop quiz: If you were a legislator, would you feel more beholden to the donor who gave $5,000 to your campaign, or to the lobbyist who gave you a coffee mug, or even, heaven forbid, a steak dinner?
Of course, as the Washington Examiner points out, it’s not the big business lobbyists that we’ll have to worry about:
Under Gov.Tim Kaine – one of Obama’s earliest supporters for president and his choice as DNC chairman – Virginia became the 18th most taxed state in the U.S. But that would just be the starting point for McAuliffe, who has been busy lining up lots of outside money from his union pals in New Jersey and elsewhere. He was known during the Clinton years for his “soft money” strategy that culminated in the 1996 Lincoln Bedroom sleepover scandals. And at least two of McAuliffe’s private real estate investments in Florida were bankrolled by a union pension fund. A former DNC finance director even testified at the 1999 Manhattan trial of the Teamsters’ former political director that McAuliffe urged him to bypass campaign contribution limits by getting major Democratic donors to give to unions and liberal political groups, which would in turn contribute to various Democratic Party committees.
A reader sent me the latest message from the ever creative Levar Stoney, the executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia. Judging from the tone of Chairman Cranwell’s rhetoric, it seems that the party may not be as determined to run the same sort of “hope based” campaign that President Obama did:
“When it comes to the core issues of our economy and creating jobs, Bob McDonnell just isn’t on our side,” Cranwell said. “Bob McDonnell’s got a tough sell if he aims to convince Virginians that he’s different from the obstructionist Bob McDonnell that I’ve known for 15 years.” – The Washington Post, March 28th, 2008
However, that tone could just be some of the vitriol rubbing off from the Gubernatorial primary on their side. Whatever the outcome of that race, Stoney assures us they will be ready:
The turnout at this weekend’s rallies demonstrates that Virginia Democrats are ready to bring the fight to Bob McDonnell and win again in 2009!
However, reality seems to tell a different story as to which side has the enthusiasm advantage. From the Richmond Times Dispatch:
In Henrico, McDonnell spoke to about 500 people at J.R. Tucker High School in a gym festooned with campaign signs. He was accompanied by members of his family, Republican officeholders and his presumed Republican running mate, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.
At Mount Vernon Middle School, about a mile from the McDonnell rally, about 30 Democrats tried to paint a different picture of the 54-year-old lawyer.
If that’s your grassroots army…..then looking forward to seeing you in November.
As we noted the other day, Delegate Todd Gilbert has been putting more and more fiscal issues of late. You might think this is obvious given the mess Richmond’s budget is in and the currently dire economic situation. However, Delegate Gilbert is resisting the siren call of higher taxes as the way to “save” our republic and instead is looking for ways to make government more streamlined and effective.
His current target: VDOT. VDOT has decided to cut back services and close reststops alll up and down the I-81 corridor. Delegate Gilbert believes we’re seeing a repeat of 2004, when many departments played games with the citizenry of the commonwealth, with the full cooperation of the Warner administration, to force the General Assembly into raising taxes. From the Daily News Record:
Gilbert, however, said it was the current administration that was playing politics. The delegate, whose 15th district includes parts of Page, Shenandoah, Rappahannock and Rockingham counties, was more blunt in his assessment of the purpose of the proposed residency closings. He drew a comparison to a budget battle in recent years when the Department of Motor Vehicle offices were closed during a debate over raising taxes.
When the debate was over, the offices stayed open, he said.
Instead of a knee-jerk reaction to raise taxes this time, Gilbert said, VDOT is similarly proposing cuts after resisting an independent analysis of its spending practices.
“I am not sure that the motivation behind this plan isn’t political,” he said during the meeting.
I spent last night with 176 of my fellow Shenandoah County Republicans at our Annual Lincoln Day Dinner. The crowd was the largest its been in years, the food from Shaffer’s catering wonderful (as always), and the speakers electric. I’m working on getting some video up, but there’s one thing I wanted to comment on while I’m getting some of that up.
As I noted the other day, Senator Mark Obenshain and Delegate Todd Gilbert have been taking VDOT to task for holding rural Virginia hostage in order to provoke legislators into supporting a tax increase, all while the General Assembly has been unable to get an independent audit of the department conducted. Delegate Gilbert devoted most of his speech to the topic, noting some of the waste during the inaugural while calling again for an independent audit.
Well, from Mark Obenshain’s office, via Tertium Quids, we have word that VDOT is playing its hand as towards where some of the money is going. It appears that, while making the decision to cut services in rural Virginia, there’s plenty of time and money for the department to launch its very own YouTube channel. There, you can watch scenes from the last winter storm (if your local news station and the Weather channel just weren’t enough):
Learn about the Norris Bridge Festival:
And watch five years worth of bridget demolitions, both with natural sound:
And set to OPERA!
Look, some of these videos are good public service announcements, but are they really best distributed via YouTube? The video on workzone safety should be required watching for every high school driver’s ed class, yet I never recall seeing it. Does VDOT really expect to be able to get the public’s attention this way when videos of laughing babies and dancing cats have hits in the millions? A number of the videos are self-serving promotional materials, but should a department with giant orange trucks really have a PR problem? Well, I suppose if it had no idea how to manage it’s money it might…..
YouTube doesn’t charge a fee, but I’m sure that the videographers who either work for the department or are contracted do. VDOTs maintenance workers are fine, hardworking people who take pride in their work. The problem here is with the bureaucracy. They are making cuts that will cripple rural Virginia, all the while not making such non-essential expenditures clear. Call your Delegate and Senator now and demand an independent audit of VDOT.
We hear all about the time of politicians who, in their quest for power, be it for their issues or simply for its own sake, who move to open districts or seek a new office when they haven’t even finished a full term in their current office, breaking an implicit promise they made to the people to serve them. However, in Loudoun County, we have the case of Stevens Miller, who is just arrogant enough to do both at the same time. From Crystal Clear Conservative:
Loudoun Supervisor Stevens Miller recently moved into Delegate Tom Rust’s district. It appears that he is renting out a townhouse in Sterling and keeping his house in the Broadlands. Sounds like someone wants to fire things up and challenge.
Too bad, Miller is a carpetbagger and hasn’t even finished out his term on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. Is this really the type of person you want representing you in the Virginia General Assembly? No, didn’t think so!
I try not to question the motivations of others in politics. If they’re like me, they hopefully got involved in politics for very deeply seated reasons related to their background or beliefs. However, when you see a politician going so far out of their way to take advantage of a situation, well, it’s hard not to see this as a clear case of hubris.
Frequent readers of my blog know that budget transparency at all levels of government is a pet issue of mine. The issue has also been gaining steam in conservative circles at all levels of government. Norm over at TQ notes that Senator Cuccinelli’s bill to put the state budget online has passed the first hoop in the House. However, nervous bueracrats are doing everything they can to stop the bill:
It now heads over the the House Appropriations committee because, for whatever reason, the Department of Planning and Budget insists that there is a fiscal impact.
This comes as news both to the folks from General Services and to the state’s Auditor, Walter Kucharski, who told the committee that there is no fiscal impact from the bill and that the Department of Planning and Budget never asked him if for his input on their estimate.
I’ll never cease to be amazed by the sense of entitlement that public officials and bureaucrats have once they have “the people’s” money. Regardless, the always know what’s best for the greater good.
Meanwhile, Crystal Clear Conservative notes that the issue is gaining alot of traction in Fairfax, particularly after Pat Herrity’s extremely tight campaign for Chairman where he used transparency as a key issue:
Transparency is a hot ticket issue, especially in large, suburban counties like Fairfax, where it seems like every year comes with a new property tax increase. This is the first step towards fiscal accountability. If a taxpayer searches the database and notices that the company is spending $X with this contractor, then they are able to question this at an open county hearing with their Supervisor. In this budget crisis, we need fiscally sound principles more now than ever.
Amen sister. If elected officials are truly doing the people’s work and are basing their decisions on principles, not relationships, then they should have nothing to hide. After numerous controversies about the style of governance in Shenandoah County over the last few years, will any Board of Supervisors candidates take up the call for budget transparency.
If you’re out there, I’d like to hear from you.
The House has rejected the Senate’s amendments to the budget, meaning that the budget HB1600 is now in conference. The Senate based a large chunk of its bill on the incoming stimulus money. The amendments passed fairly easily. However, there were four votes against it (arguably the last four true conservatives in the Senate). One of them, our own Senator Mark Obenshain, wasn’t going to take this laying down. From the Virginian Pilot:
“I cannot stand here and join the Hallelujah chorus,” said Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, one of the four dissenting votes on the budget.
“We have one-time stimulus money that has been dropped in our laps by the federal government,” Obenshain said, predicting that the economic recession will outlast the effects of the stimulus money. “We’ll feel better for a couple of months, but we’re not going to feel better in June, July and August.”
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling has similar feelings:
Given the significant infusion of funds provided by the federal stimulus package, I think the Senate did a good job crafting amendments to restore many of the budget cuts that had been made in the Executive Budget. However, I fear that this is a short term solution to a long term problem. By relying on one time federal funds to balance the budget we are not addressing the fundamental structural problem in the budget. Simply put, we are spending more money than we are taking in and we cannot continue to do that. Unless we see significant economic growth over the next 18 months, we will once again face massive budget shortfalls when the federal stimulus dollars expire.
I’m glad that someone else can keep their head out of the clouds for just a moment to realize what is fundamentally wrong with balancing the state books with the stimulus. Number one, we didn’t win the galactic lottery–this is money that will come from the pocketbooks of hardworking taxpayers is these Senator’s districts, as well as their children, and likely their grandchildren.
Two, although Obama and other Democrats may have talked about fiscal responsibility and streamlining during the campaign, it was never actually about decreasing government. No–rather it was about making government intrusion into your life more efficient and finding dollars to spend on other social and economic band-aids. By throwing this money to the states, Obama is encouraging already voracious state legislators to continue their spending unabated rather than to fundamentally examine what is wrong with “business as usual” in Richmond.
Three, and in my view most importantly, this fundamentally breaks down the federalist system in America. By making states far more beholden to the federal government and planting in citizens mind’s the idea that Uncle Sam can save, well, just about anything, Obama has paved the way for a centralized government in which states become little more than administrative areas. How are they doing this? Well, by stripping governors of the ability to say yes or no to federal intervention and rather putting in the hands of the budget writers. From Michelle Malkin:
SEC. 1607. (a) CERTIFICATION BY GOVERNOR — Not later than 45 days after the date of enactment of this Act, for funds provided to any State or agency thereof, the Governor of the State shall certify that: 1) the State request and use funds provided by this Act , and; 2) funds be used to create jobs and promote economic growth.
(b) ACCEPTANCE BY STATE LEGISLATURE — If funds provided to any State in any division of this Act are not accepted for use by the Governor, then acceptance by the State legislature, by means of the adoption of a concurrent resolution, shall be sufficient to provide funding to such State.